Our first sisters Clara del Grau, Francisca de las Llagas de Alcalá, Serafina de Benaguacil and the novice María de los Desamparado de Suera, who died of infection assisting the cholera patients at the beginning of our history, were “martyrs of charity” giving their life for others and, later, our Sisters Rosario de Soano, Serafina de Ochovi and Francisca Javier de Rafelbuñol, were “martyrs of the faith” in the Spanish war. After them, other sisters, following the example of Jesus and other saints, were not afraid to put their own lives in danger in order to take care of others.
In the month of November 1985, the Nevado del Ruiz, an apparently dormant volcano located in the Tolima region (Colombia), woke up from its lethargy and in a short time threw an avalanche of mighty waters from the melting of snow that covered it, along with ash and mud, that forever buried the small town of Armero where we had a community and a school. Faced with the preannounced threat, the sisters decided not to go out and remain among their people to welcome them into their home at the time of danger. But the river of mud that flowed rapidly from the mountain washed everything away : Sister Bertalina Marín and novice Nora Engrith were buried forever in the cemetery that Armero became and Sister Julia Alba Saldarriaga later died from the wounds she had suffered from the burning mud. Like our first sisters, we consider them “victims of charity” in giving themselves to others.
Two years later, in July 1987, our sister Inés Arango, a missionary among the indigenous tribes of the Amazon jungle of Ecuador, lost her life, along with the Capuchin missionary and Bishop Alejandro Labaka. Encouraged by his great ardor to announce Christ, in one of his trips to come in contact with a tribe that was rather closed in their culture and that also had developed a certain aggressiveness against foreigners from the oil companies that were invading their lands, the two missionaries were shot by arrows by the natives. Mons. Labaka and Sr. Inés, were not martyrs of the faith but they were witnesses and messengers of God’s love for the Tagaeri Indians.